For years, I was lost into an unhappy, abusive, controlling, polygamous filled relationship. I found myself lying to my parents and friends about where all of my bruises would come from. Drowning my black eyes into my makeup. Soaking my face into my tears each night, because I felt I had no one to tell, no one who would understand. Growing up into a broken home myself where I continuously beared witness to my parents fighting, I believe that I grew accustomed almost to what I thought love was. To better explain, I believe that my idea of love, was built off of the bricks my parents had laid for me me as a child. Unfortunately, you can’t build a stable home with broken bricks. This is a lesson that I had to learn the hard way. But I believe now, that I can be a voice to those who don’t have one. Because once, I didn’t either.
What is Abuse?
- Abuse can be physical, emotional, or sexual. Abuse can be physical, emotional, or sexual.
- Physical abuse means any form of violence, such as hitting, punching, pulling hair, and kicking. Abuse can happen in both dating relationships and friendships.
- Emotional abuse (teasing, bullying, and humiliating others) can be difficult to recognize because it doesn’t leave any visible scars. Threats, intimidation, putdowns, and betrayal are all harmful forms of emotional abuse that can really hurt — not just during the time it’s happening, but long afterward, too.
- Sexual abuse can happen to anyone, guy or girl. It’s never right to be forced into any type of sexual experience that you don’t want.
Signs of Abusive Relationships
Important warning signs that you may be involved in an abusive relationship include when someone:
- harms you physically in any way, including slapping, pushing, grabbing, shaking, smacking, kicking, and punching
- tries to control different aspects of your life, such as how you dress, who you hang out with, and what you say
- frequently humiliates you or makes you feel unworthy (for example, if a partner puts you down but tells you that he or she loves you)
- threatens to harm you, or self-harm, if you leave the relationship
- twists the truth to make you feel you are to blame for your partner’s actions
- demands to know where you are at all times
- constantly becomes jealous or angry when you want to spend time with your friends
- Unwanted sexual advances that make you uncomfortable are also red flags that the relationship needs to focus more on respect. When someone says stuff like “If you loved me, you would . . . ” that’s also a warning of possible abuse, and is a sign that your partner is trying to manipulate you. A statement like this is controlling and is used by people who are only concerned about getting what they want — not caring about what you want. Trust your intuition. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
The first step to getting out of an abusive relationship is to realize that you deserve to be treated with respect and love, not to be physically and emotionally harmed by another person. You are more than abuse, and you deserve more than your abuser. If you know a friend or family member who may be going through abuse, be there for them. Give them your emotional support, love, and attention. It takes a lot of courage to admit to being abused; let your friend/family member know that you’re offering your full support.
- What should you do if you think someone might be abusing you? If you feel that you love someone but often feel afraid, it’s time to get out of the relationship — fast. You’re worth being treated with respect and you can get help.
- First, make sure you’re safe. A trusted adult or friend can help. If the person has physically attacked you, don’t wait to get medical attention or to call the police. Assault is illegal, and so is rape — even if it’s done by someone you are dating.
- Avoid the tendency to isolate yourself from your friends and family. You might feel like you have nowhere to turn, or you might be embarrassed about what’s been going on, but this is when you need support most. People like counselors, doctors, teachers, coaches, and friends will want to help you, so let them.
- Don’t rely on yourself alone to get out of the situation. Friends and family who love and care about you can help you break away. It’s important to know that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. It actually shows that you have a lot of courage and are willing to stand up for yourself. It’s also likely you will need help to break out of a cycle of abuse, especially if you still love the person who has hurt you, or feel guilty about leaving.
Where to Get Help
- Ending abuse and violence in teen relationships is a community effort with plenty of people ready to help. Your local phone book or the internet will list crisis centers like the one shown above, teen help lines, and abuse hotlines. These organizations have professionally trained staff to listen, understand, and help. In addition, religious leaders, school nurses, teachers, school counselors, doctors, and other health professionals can be sources of support and information.
I pray for everyone who may be going through abuse, for you to be brought out of all of your hurt and your pain. I pray for your strength, your dignity, your protection, and for your hearts to heal. You will make it through. I believe in you. I believe in your strength. You are not weak. Make your way out of it. Pray your way out of it.